Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Why Symphony?


By Richard E. Noble

Let's face it, my friends, we are put into this world and this existence, against our will, or to put it more delicately, without our consent. To say that, as human beings, we had a free choice in this matter is to deny reason and common sense.

The thinking on this is simple. You couldn't have been asked if you wanted “to be” or “not to be” before you existed. You would have “to be,” before anyone could ask if you would like to choose “not to be.” And then once you “are” – the prejudice of your existence makes an objective choice impossible.

I see no way around this fact or argument and neither could Clarence Darrow, Bertrand Russell and a slew of other thinkers before me. Just as your human parents didn't ask you if you wanted to be born (Your mother and father making that choice for you) neither did your Creator. It was only reasonable for you, as a child, to presume that your parents had a reason for making that decision. But strangely enough, as most of us children grow older, we find that, in reality, our parents had no reason for bringing us into this world, other than the simple fact that they were in a state of frenzy and confusion at that particular time.

The most common reason for one's human existence (to be distinguished from our cosmic existence) for a good number of us was pure and simple accident.

Today human beings are brought into this world for a multitude of reasons but, on the international scale, human beings in heat is still probably number one. But there are other reasons and they are multiple and numerous:

Security – your parents may have brought you here in order to have someone to fight for their cause; to be a part of their army, church, society, tribe, family, and/or group; to help milk the cows, goats, or camels; to wash the dishes, sweep the floors, plow the fields, paint the barn, or take care of poor me when I'm too old to take care of myself.

Welfare Fraud – you could have been the product of a monetary transaction. In other words, you were brought here, basically, because your birth meant bucks to somebody, a new apartment, or a check from the government or a secure income for life for somebody.

Super Star – Your Mom and Dad might have brought you here in the hopes that one day you may have grown up to be another Magic Johnson, or a Big Bubba linebacker with a million dollar a year contract. Or just an anybody who might one day become rich, wealthy, or famous, and , in turn, rescue his Mom and Dad from all of their suffering.
Heir – You could be here to provide an heir to some egotistical rich bitch.
Proof of Adulthood – Then again, you could be the symbol of someone's maturity, "See Mommy, I'm big enough to have a baby, even if I still don't know how to make my own bed, or clean my room.

Ugly – You could be here because your mother and father, or both your parents, were so ugly that they had to provide living proof to the world that another human being would actually make love to them. Their word alone, not being acceptable proof.

Retribution – You could be here because your Mom and Dad were so low on the scale of social acceptability, that without you they would have no one whom they could legitimately beat, use, abuse, or brow beat; in general, to do to you, what they feel the world has been doing to them for all of their lives.

Family Heritage – You could be here as a projection of another’s ego – the intellectual notion of passing on one's superior genes to some fortunate progeny. Unfortunately this, in reality, only succeeds in creating another little ugly thing with the parents own prized set of personal defects.

Immortality – Then, of course, there is this immortality thing. Your Mom or Dad may have thought that by bringing you into existence, that they would be continuing their line or family name and thus projecting themselves one more step towards immortality. My guess is that even though you did not succeed in bringing them immortality you, more than likely (if we are to take probability into account), made their life here on this earth, actually seem like an eternity. So consider yourself a success on this account – even if Mom and Dad don't.

That’s my Boy – Then again, you could be here on behalf of your parents, to accomplish all of those wonderful things that they were either too stupid, too chicken, or too lacking in talent or ability to accomplish themselves. In other words, as existing nobodies, your folks had the hope, even with the knowledge that you would be inheriting all of their inadequate, deformed genes that you might grow up one day to be a somebody. And if you will take a look at all of the great somebody's existing in this world today, and in the past for that matter, you will see that such a ludicrous notion was and is actually possible.

Lonely – Then there are others who may have brought you here simply because they were lonely; or because they wanted to share all of the "wonder and beauty" that they saw around them with a creature of their own creation - one that didn't look somewhat like them, or their diseased, syphilitic great, great grandmother just wouldn't do.
You could have been brought here as a part of a breeding program, like the one initiated by good old Adolf in Nazi Germany or the program of “unnatural” selection that we had right here in the good old U.S. of A. back in our formative years i.e. slavery.

Extra Cash – You could be the product of a closed, private room, a few dirty movies, or magazines, and a cash payment of $29.95 at a local sperm bank just down the street from Harvard or Yale.

Pill Bill – You could be the not necessarily wanted result of a fertility pill gone bonkers.

Spare Parts – You might, or may, one day, actually be a clone.
You might be here as spare parts for somebody's very, very famous uncle.

Drunken Folly – You could be here as the result of one too many Seven and Seven's, or Zombies.

An extra Buck – You might actually be here as the result of a "babies for sale" program in Asia, Africa, or East L.A.

Prostitution – Your mother could have been a child prostitute trying to pay for her father's farm, or drug problem.

Rape – You could be the unwanted child of a rape victim.

Free Labor – You could actually have been bred as a slave to work in a chocolate factory on an island off the coast of Liberia in the twentieth century.

So there you have some of the reasons for your human existence. Your Cosmic, or Spiritual existence if you will, is still another question. I sometimes think that, in actuality, the concept of God was made up by parents as an answer to their children when the kids inevitably asked; "Mom … Dad, who made me? Where did I come from?" The Parents couldn't bring themselves to say, "Well you see kids, your Mother and I were in heat for a number of years and we just couldn't stop screwing. We were at this drive-in movie one night. We bought prophylactics, honest! Your mother was even wearing a diaphragm but – what can I say? Would it do any good to say that I'm sorry?" So instead, they quickly thought up the notion of God in order to cast off their guilt and irresponsibility. "Well Danny, you see, God made you. We don't really understand why He made you because you are without a doubt the biggest pain in the ass that we two have ever experienced, but we know that He must have had a reason. So, son, the next time that you see Him, you ask HIM. Oh and, by the way, while you are at it, ask about us too, will you? Your Mother and I have been asking that same question for quite a while also. But, when you ask God, don't be rude, or pushy, because God gets pissed off easily. He has been known to turn people at a glance into stone, or salt, or a toad. He flooded the whole world once and killed everybody but a guy named Boa or Scoa, or something. And, let me tell you, if he doesn't like you, and you don't bow down and kiss His butt, He may just set you on fire and forget to put you out! But don't you kids be afraid now. It doesn't hurt to ask why. How else are you ever going to learn? So now, run along."
As you can see there are any number of reasons why your parents may have brought you here into this world. BUT, why did God do it? Why did God devise this process? Why did God create the human sexual system? Just like with our earthly parents, the fact that we are here gives rise to the human notion, that if there is a cause to “being”, it must be a “reasonable” cause. Or the Cause-er must have had a reason. But, just as with your Mom and Dad, that reason may not exist, or might have very little resemblance to what anyone has thought it to be, or, there could very well be no reasonable cause at all. Why the ant, the rat, or the roach? Do they need a 'reason'? Or is it you that needs the reason? I personally think that there is a first cause and that First cause is none other than Santa Cause.

When I was young and going to school, the Great Thinkers of humankind were having a heated debate over whether or not there was such a thing as instinctual behavior in human beings.

First they put this definition on instinctual behavior that only a cat could conform to. And then they concluded that since no human has ever walked in circles in a dirt drive, dug a hole, shit in that hole and then buried it, without any directions from a mother or wife, there is obviously no instinctual behavior in Man.

How about War? How about domination? How about falling in love? How about huddling together in groups (societies)? How about killing things? How about sucking on a boob? How about screaming, and kicking and yelling when one does not get what one wants. In babies, we expect it. In young adults we call it a temper tantrum. In mature grownups, we call it politics.

I read about this interesting case study which was conducted by a couple of non-professionals (behavioral scientists, amateur status, of course).

This couple gave birth to a little girl. For reasons known to them alone, they took this child and locked her in a closet up in the attic. They shoved food to her, under the door, and avoided any human contact with the child for thirteen or fifteen years. [Talk about being sent to your room for being bad!] In any case, since the couple didn't leave us an abstract of their experiment, all that we have by way of data, is what the police supplied to the newspapers.

What do you think that this little unwanted child did in this closet, compulsively, day in – day out, for the greater part of her puberty? Give up? Let me give you some choices;
A) say the rosary?
B) watch soap operas?
C) contemplate the universe.
D) masturbate.

To find out if you have chosen the correct answer and win a possible free trip to the Bahamas (or some other place where the people who live there hate your guts because they think that you have too much money, no taste in clothes, are rude, and a poor tip giver; write your name, age, and vital statistics (please include nude photo) to: P.O. Box A B C D – Perverts, Sadomasochists, and Insane Sexual Deviates Anonymous; c/o The International Health Foundation Cleavage, Maryland.

Many years ago, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to his associate and contemporary, Sigmund Freud, and asked – Why war? I've now forgotten what Sigmund's response was, but I do know that Sigmund returned to Albert (via UPS overnight delivery) a one quart baggy filled with human nose pickings, and a photo of his wife, Siggarrette Freud, naked.

In any case, old Albert neglected to ask me, why war? That is probably one of the reasons that he ended up where he did ... Princeton.

Boy, just think, if he would have contacted me first, he could probably have gone to Harvard.

Oh well, and that brings us right back to our original premise and the nature of our cosmic and psychological being. To use Plato's Allegory; Man sees the shadows on the wall of his cave (actually symbolisms for forceps and womb) but then one day pokes his head out and sees the light, to which he responds; "What the hell am I doing here?"
A voice in the heavens responds; "Exactly!"
And then Man says; "What did he mean by that?"
And thus, began Man's search for eternal knowledge.

But, it should be obvious to everyone by the multitude of religious beliefs and the general confusion on this issue, that Man does not know the answer to that question. And if Man, the damn fool that he is, doesn't know why he is here in the first place, how the hell can he ever justify whatever the heck it is that he thinks he's doing? This lack of resolution, brings about mental conflict, which if left unresolved, leads to frustration – which if left unresolved (provided he has nothing to suck on) leaves little Ingert hitting little brother, Nutgard, on the top of the head. AND, if this behavior is left unchecked, WE HAVE WAR!

The truth of this matter is really not so difficult to understand. Man presumes, by his being that God must have had a reason for creating him.

He looks at the nature of the things about him.

He sees how the rat eats the roach, and the cat eats the rat, and the dog kills the cat, and the lion eats the dog, and how a man eats anything that doesn't eat him first. He then starts making assumptions, whether conscious or otherwise:

God must not only be a Prime Mover, he thinks, but a Prime Eater, also. Or a Prime Killer, because if we don't kill one another, all at once or in bunches, He figures out a way to kill us all one by one anyway with some sort of pestilence or disease, or just plain old . . . DEATH.

But, regardless, man's thoughts go on:

If all things in nature parasitically thrive on each others death, and/or flesh and blood, then couldn't it be that God is in fact the infinite Vampire who thrives off human death (i.e., mankind's history of human sacrifice and torture to appease the Gods) human suffering just being the frosting on the cake. And all of this leads man to ask himself; If God has created me so that one day He will have the pleasure of killing me, what the heck is His story, anyway?

Man does not like to face this fact of his own death. It irks him greatly to think that God (his Cosmic Parent) has made this terrible situation on purpose, or even worse yet, without purpose. In response to this frustrating dilemma, we have a multitude of different reactions on the part of man (and some women):

He becomes a psychotic, and makes up a Disney World up in the sky. He calls it heaven, and it is a place (unlike the earth) filled with sugar and spice and everything nice. The streets of heaven are paved with gold, and once you get there everything is peachy-keen, hunky-dory or just plain swell.

Or, he may conclude: if this is the example God sets for me, maybe I should be a good little person and follow his example, and destroy all the things and people about me, just as He does and act in His own image and likeness. Be Godly, as was Adolf Hitler conclusion.

Or maybe seeing death and torture, and pain as the alternatives of his life, he comes to the conclusion that somebody up there really hates me … and maybe justifiably so. Maybe, I am a hateful vicious creature that deserves nothing but pain and suffering. I will therefore abuse and punish myself and some of these other similar ugly creatures about me. And why the hell not? Right boys and girls?

BUT ... Why war? Albert asked Sigmund.
Come on guys! Don't you know?
Do you really have to ask; WHY WAR?

When you look at the nature of the human beings around you; when you, as learned men, have read the History of Humankind in all of its blood and gore; you ask, Why War?

My question would be the exact opposite.
Why civilization?

Where and how did the concept that Man was anything more than a crude, self-destructive, ignorant beast ever evolve from? If Albert and Sigmund were alive today, I would write a letter to each of them and ask; Albert ... Sigmund ... WHY SYMPHONY?

I watch the Symphony on the educational television station whenever I can. When it's on, I can't seem to draw myself away from it. I am totally spellbound. I hate the music, but the spectacle of civilization enthralls me.

There we have before us on the screen, one hundred, maybe two hundred well groomed animals.

Just a short time ago, anthropologically speaking, the ancestors of these creatures were disemboweling one another and eating each others hearts.

Humans used to eat the hearts of other humans, not simply because they ran out of M&M's or Moon Pies, but for any number of good intelligent reasons.

One of which was the notion that if they ate the heart of a brave courageous human, they would thusly ingest his fortitude, fearlessness and strength.

BOY, lucky they didn't apply this same theory to sexual prowess, who knows what they would have been eating, huh?

Knowing this, one would think that a smart human of yesteryear, when faced with a situation requiring fortitude and courage (the above respected qualities of heart consumption) would cower down behind a bush or shrub, and say; "Don't hit me, don't hit me, please? I'm nothing but a cowardly snip and if you dirty my knickers, my Mom will kill me."

This, on the surface, would appear to have been a good strategy, but, not so!

This sniveling type of individual was captured. And as an example to similar minded cowards in their own army, cultural group, and/or society, these individuals would be brought before the citizens, on a Sunday afternoon, whereupon, they would be skinned alive, or a sharp instrument would be placed into his lower abdomen and a High Priest would reach into this unfortunate body and pull out his bowels and/or intestines.

The audience could tell that this was a very painful experience for the sorry Warrior. They were able to discern this from the pitch of his screams, and the intensity of his cries and the way his eyeballs just, kind of bugged out of his skull.

Once This High Priest had all of the bowels and intestines pulled out of the man through the small slit in his lower abdomen, he usually laid them on the man's stomach or chest, and then went over to the next altar and plunged a dagger into a heart of a virgin.

And this is the way the ancestors of the bassoon and oboe players used to spend their Sunday afternoons. And, now, here we have their descendants today, two hundred or so well groomed monkeys (or dolphins), basically, sitting in gowns or tuxedos, with all offensive holes or protuberances and body parts covered, strumming, drumming, or gumming a complicated series of sounds and noises … IN HARMONY!

And more amazing than even that, they have all gotten together, beforehand and agreed to play the SAME SONG! AND, in basically the same manner as played hundreds of times before, by other monkeys from other tribes, who live in parts of the world thousands of miles from one another AND DON'T EVEN SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE!

How is this possible?

Why war?

No way man. Why Symphony? HOW Symphony?

On top of all of this, they play this series of sounds and noises that no teenager with pink hair, a ring in his nose, and a six dollar piece of artificial puke in his pocket, would ever spend two cents of his parents’ hard earned money to buy. And this music form lives on.

Is this not truly amazing?

To further complicate this situation, we have a second oboe player who hates the guts of the first oboe player because he knows in his heart that he could gum the sounds allocated to the first oboe player with considerably more style and grace.

We have a female cellist who has her seat in the Symphony solely because she has been playing exciting sounds on the conductor's favorite nephew.

We have four rather strange guys in the brass section who are having a problem with their concentration because they can't stop thinking about the enema party that they are all hoping to attend after the concert is over.

There is also a problem with the string section, who sit directly behind the cellist (who, as we remember, is making passionate love to the conductor's nephew) because she is wearing a dress that is cut down in the back to the creak of her ass.

And in the midst of all of this we have Mozart, Strauss, Shostakovich, Bach, and Beethoven.

But yet, Albert asks Sigmund. Why war?

Albert, my good friend, you spent too much time riding your imaginary motorcycle through the universe at the speed of light. You missed the BIG questions, man!

The question is not why war? That's obvious.

The bigger questions are: Why love? Why beauty? Why kindness? And the most psychological and philosophical of all … why symphony?

Monday, July 08, 2013

Chomsky - Deterring Democracy

Deterring Democracy

Noam Chomsky

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

I’ve read several books by Professor Chomsky. This is the best Chomsky book I’ve read so far.
Chomsky is always wordy and has a tendency to wander but this book has a theme that he follows fairly consistently.

The title of the book is “Deterring Democracy” and it is the Professor’s goal to show just how the “American, corporate government” has done just that all around the world.

It is the author’s contention that the U.S. is not and has never been in the business of helping foreign countries to establish democracy in their land. He is of the opinion that the U.S. is much more interested
in establishing Capitalism and rule by the wealthy than establishing any kind of democracy.

In a way the book reminds me of another book that impressed me, “One World Ready or Not” by William Greider.

In Greider’s book we take a trip with labor and working folks around the world. We see how poorly they live and are treated and exploited by their employers … who are agents or clients of international corporations.

In this book we take a similar trip championing the peasant and working class – the “non-people,” as Chomsky calls them.

Some say that Mr. Chomsky is a misanthrope. This is not true. He is the exact opposite. All his books are written in defense of the poor and unorganized and on behalf of the people. Mr. Chomsky is concerned about what the powerful people are doing to the not so powerful.

Mr. Chomsky is a corporate government hater. He is against the monopolization of the world by big business and imperialist governments. Actually he is against all and any government.

Consequently, he comes to the world with a much different perspective. Like Howard Zinn who shocked the world with his “A People’s History of America” Chomsky is equally shocking.

He puts his unusual magnifying glass and his endless information and details of U.S. foreign policy, contemporary and historical, on the various third world countries of the world and turns our conventional understanding of things upside down.

We go all over South America, Asia, Central America, the Caribbean, Japan, China, Africa and elsewhere. He gives special and detailed attention to Nicaragua and El Salvador. But he also covers Chile, Brazil, Columbia and most other South American nations.

He outlines for the reader a bloody and murderous path pursued all over the world by the U.S. in the name of freedom and democracy but really on behalf of big, corporate enterprises. General Smedley Butler told a similar but not so gruesome story in his book “War is a Racket.”

What is really shocking is the callous disregard of human life on the part of the U.S., reported by the author. Thousands and thousands of people murdered and slaughtered because of America’s financial support to groups like the Contras in Nicaragua.

But it isn’t just Nicaragua. This murderous intrigue supported financially and clandestinely by the CIA, NSA, and other American counterinsurgency groups was and is common policy of the U.S. all over the world.

We even have a training center for torture and barbaric tactics in Florida, “the School of the Americas.”
At this school, says the author, America trains counterinsurgency, murder, torture, assassination and methods of infiltrating and overthrowing any government in South America that exhibits liberal tendencies – like land redistribution, income equality, medical care for the poor, free education and the like.

This book is eye opening and thought provoking along with being a horror story. It shows the war that has been conducted by the U.S. on behalf of the control of the wealthy and the super wealthy over the peasant and the working class – a war and a pattern of behavior and elitist attitudes that goes back to the colonial period.

He is not favorable to Reagan and the Bush twins or any Republican but he does little cheering for any of the Democrats either. He hits Clinton, Carter and Truman also. He is not happy with American government and our half-assed democracy either. He points out how democracy is deterred here at home too. He is unrelenting.

He is a tough read but very difficult to challenge.

This book is over 450 pages and he has 100 more books of similar length behind it.

There is just no end to this guy.

Many Americans wonder why so many of the countries and people of South and Central America are so anti-American. Well, this book gives a pretty darn good answer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Noam Chomsky - 9-11

Noam Chomsky – 9-11

Book Review

By Richard Edward Noble

This book is a group of interviews with professor and Dissident and Chief on or relating to the 9-11 attack on the twin towers and the policies and attitudes that have come about because of this event.

Anyone who has read anything by Chomsky knows that he recognizes two types of terrorism. The one we are all familiar with and another that most do not recognize.

Let’s call the one we are all familiar with Radical Terrorism.

Radical Terrorism can be sponsored by a single person, a small group, or an organized band or cell group bent on destruction for any number of different reasons.

Chomsky distinguishes this type of terrorism from a second type of terrorism. Let’s call it Elitist, State Sponsored Terrorism.

It is clear that the Professor considers State Sponsored Terrorism not only the worst and most serious but the root cause of all other types of terrorism.

For the most part he considers Radical Terrorism the response to State Sponsored Terrorism.

In other words, it is not governments reacting to the evil deeds of radical terrorists but radical terrorist responding to the evil deeds of governments.

He makes this case over and over and over in all of his books.

He makes a good case and can defend it with logic, and statistics.

The horrible event of 9-11 changed the governmental policies of the world.

He makes reference to “The Bush Doctrine.”

The Bush Doctrine is the governmental policy of preemptive attack. Preemptive attack is the policy whereby a government can strike militarily against another government on the assumption that this country and its government pose a possible threat to the national security of the attacking nation.

Chomsky says that Bush was not the originator of this policy. Reagan attacked Libya and Muammar Gaddafi on the same grounds.

He then points out the reciprocal moral principle based on the notion that if “Big Daddy” can do it, then “Baby Huey” can do it too. In other words, if the leader and moral standard bearer for the world (U.S.A.) says that it can attack a potential enemy on the grounds that it might present a future danger, then why can’t Iran attack Iraq or China attack Japan or North Korea attack the United States based on the same international moral standard established by the new Bush Doctrine.

It is very easy to see how the establishment of the Bush Doctrine has changed the world and made it a much more dangerous place.

This new policy of preemptive aggression and wars of choice established firmly since and in response to the attacks of 9-11 has also stimulated a worldwide nuclear arms race. Now every nation, even smaller nations, will want to have a few nuclear bombs as a deterrent to threats of preemptive strikes by larger nations.

The attack on 9-11 was bad enough but the U.S. response was worse.

Reading anything by Noam Chomsky is a new experience for most people. He is called an extremist and a radical but most of what he says is very logical and sensible. Everything he claims, he backs up with references, facts and figures. Every Chomsky book is a personal instruction in foreign affairs and history. He specializes in Elitist State Sponsored Terrorism of which war itself is a crucial part. The problem is that most of us have accepted the illogical arguments of our governments and therefore Professor Chomsky confuses our established, accepted prejudice.

This book is a small book. I finished it in two days. It is well worth reading.

The Hobo Philosopher, Richard Edward Noble, is a writer and the author of "Mein Kampf - An Analysis of Book One."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Regular Guy

Lawrence – My Hometown

A Regular Guy

By Richard E. Noble

From my perspective, my hometown of Lawrence, MA was a genetic breeding ground for “the regular guy.”
I always considered myself a regular guy and felt all my friends to be regular guys.
Many, many years ago I was watching the Bill Cosby Show. As most of you probably remember, “The Bill Cosby” show was a situation comedy. Mr. Huckstable (Cosby) was a successful Doctor, a pediatrician, and his wife was a successful lawyer. This was a great show; one of the funniest shows ever and with a social message.
This show was clearly designed to influence and promote a positive black image in America, an upscale image. At the time “The Jeffersons” and their “movin’ on up and finally getting a piece of the pie” was the prevailing image. The Jefferson’s was a step or two above Amos and Andy and Cosby was, to most white Americans, a fantasy.
Today we see black lawyers and doctors everywhere. But back in those “good old days,” I would guess that most white Americans never saw a black lawyer or doctor in their entire life – never saw one in Lawrence.
Not only hadn’t they ever seen either, they probably believed that such a possibility was genetically impossible. Even as late as the 1950’s and 1960’s there were books being written about the genetic inequalities of Blacks. They were slightly more sophisticated than those written before the Civil War and the Reconstruction period but the message was the same, “they weren't created that way.”
But Cosby and his bright and attractive TV wife made it all very believable, except for a few guys who were still peeking out from under white, bed sheets and burning crosses out in the woods.
I loved the show and watched it every week. But of all the episodes there is only one that I remember to this day.
I have been mulling it over now in my mind for twenty or thirty years.
As a regular guy from a town of regular guys, it bothered the hell out of me.
The plot of the episode was about when his teenage boy decided that he was going to drop out of high school and not go to college. He explained to his dad that he just wanted to become a “regular guy.”
Cosby then proceeds to confront the young man with the perils of attempting to live a life in this modern day America as a “regular guy.”
He lays the whole thing out for junior in plain and simple economics. He proceeds to demonstrate that the young man could not even afford to live as he now lives in his parent’s home with the amenities provided there on the salary of a regular guy.
He could not have the tapes and the music; he couldn’t have the nice clothes; he couldn't live in a home of his own; he couldn't drive a late model car; he couldn't eat out in restaurants; he would never be able to have any of the things that he had already learned to enjoy and take for granted.
Even though I am one of those regular guys and have been a regular guy all my life, I supported the message that Mr. Huckstable was providing to his naive child.
I was not only a regular guy myself but I was the son of a regular guy who was also the son of another regular guy. We all lived in regular apartments in regular neighborhoods. We wore regular clothes (sometimes irregular clothes). We ate regular food and did regular things. I hung out with the regular children of other regular people. And for the rest of my life I worked at a regular job next to hundreds and thousands and millions of other regular working stiffs.
My own dad warned me about becoming a regular guy like himself. But that was different from Mr. Cosby, a non-regular guy, giving what appeared to be similar advice.
My father didn't want me to grow up to be a regular guy either. He wanted me to become somebody.
Somebody like the person he always wanted to become but didn't or couldn't.
Nevertheless I became a regular guy. I was never ashamed of it. I always wished that I could have done better but that’s how it goes. We all can’t become somebody.
My problem with that Cosby episode was that Mr. Huckstable did the job of putting down the regular guy a little too well. I felt that being a regular guy in Mr. Huckstable’s eyes was something not only disgraceful, foolish and silly but just plain stupid.
A regular guy was a laughable moron. He was more than stupid, he might even be considered disgraceful or shameful. It is the lot in life put aside for those who don’t care; who don’t try; who are lacking in intelligence and ambition. It is the American version of the old Indian “untouchable” class.
I felt like the regular guys were no longer the G I Joe’s or the Bill and Andys of the World War II era.
You remember, the guys who won the war.
They were no longer the tough rugged guys that Bill Maldon and Ernie Pyle wrote about and immortalized in their books and cartoon strips.
Can you imagine an army with no privates or enlisted men and only Pattons and MacArthurs? My god! The officers would be slapping each other in the face.
The regular guy to Mr. Huckstable seemed to me to be the new neutral colored Amos and Andy. We regular guys were all a sad and sorry joke.
We were no longer the Paul Bunyons who cleared the forests. We were no longer the Casey Joneses who drove the steam engines. We were no longer the John Henrys who were the steel drivin’ men who laid the railroad tracks across America. We were no longer those heroic but pitiable strong men that toted that barge and lifted that bail and got a little drunk, and yes, even landed in jail.
We weren't even the vagabond propagators like Johnny Appleseed and the Zippidy Dudahs who skipped and laughed our way through life with wise tales about common folks and common things.
And what about those romantic hoboes who rode the rails and fought for the rights of regular guys to earn a regular living? We weren't even Rosie the Riveter, the female version of a regular guy.
What about Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and Daniel Boone? Weren't they regular guys who just went off “wrastled” the “bars” and settled the West?
What happened to “the Waltons” and “I Remember Mama” with Papa and his industrial lunch pail? That wise old Papa, who spoke in broken English and was the hero of his regular children who lived in their little rented apartment.
But you know even in the new Global economic world 80% of the workers in our society are still regular non-college graduates doing regular jobs for regular wages. For every supervisor there are a hundred to be supervised. For every plant manager there are a thousand plant nobodies. For every oil company executive there are a million mom and pop gas station operators. For every gated community there are a thousand middle class neighborhoods and a hundred slum neighborhoods. Or maybe in today's world there are a hundred middle class neighborhoods and a thousand slum neighborhoods.
For most regular guys becoming a regular guy was not a preferred choice or even a matter of choice. It just happened. Not too many regular guys sat down with an advisor and chose regular guy out of a vocational handbook. For that matter nobody said that they would prefer to be born in a slum or to abusive parents or into poverty.
Despite all the Horatio Alger hype these days, the majority of regular people come from other regular people and will remain regular people all their lives.
Most poor and average regular guys work very hard all their lives just trying to maintain that status. There will never be a shortage of regular guys and regular people and even if you educate all the children of the world and make them all qualified to be physicists all that will do is upgrade the intellectual caliber of dishwashers, and truck drivers and garbage men.
As long as the world has a majority of regular jobs that must be done there will have to be a supply of regular guys to do them.
All the “wise men” and the “Best and Brightest” should be very thankful for all of us regular guys because if we were all as bright and wise as they are, most of those folks would all probably have to settle for being regular guys just like us.
Wouldn't that be a shame?

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Howard Zinn Reader

The Zinn Reader

Howard Zinn

Book Review

Richard Edward Noble

Howard Zinn has been around for a long, long time. But I was exposed to him just a few years back. I picked up a copy of his big seller "A People's History of the United States."

Despite rumors to the contrary every historian puts his own personal slant on his interpretations of historical events. Some add more personality than others. Howard Zinn puts his heart and soul into everything he writes. He makes very involved and intimate reading.

After reading his "A People's History," I wanted to know more about the man, Howard Zinn.
This Book, "The Howard Zinn Reader" was perfect.

Howard Zinn hails from the tenement slums and blue collar shipyards of Brooklyn as do many other famous radicals.

Howard, though serving as a bombardier during World War II, evolved into the quintessential war resister.

I am very surprised that more veterans do not turn into war resisters. I should think they all would. But that doesn't seem to be the case.

Howard, besides being an historian, is also a moral philosopher, I would say. Not everyone has a moral conscience but Howard has a big one. His guilt over what he did personally during World War II, as a bombardier, has been the curse of his life. He has given his all to compensate for those actions ever since.

The Zinn Reader approaches 700 pages and contains a variety of essays on most everything he has written throughout his career.

Howard denounces all wars past and future. He is what I would call a secular pacifist. In other words, he does not invoke religion or God in his analysis of why war should never, ever be engaged in.

He does not support the notion of a just war. All wars are atrocities. They are atrocities on the part of all the participating entities. In one essay, he uses World War II as his example and makes a case against both the allies and the axis.

The first 120 pages of the book outline his participation in the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and 60's. Reading it is an education. I thought that I was already overexposed to the Civil Rights Movement since I lived through it and have since read about it. But, after reading Howard Zinn's, close up and personal experiences in Alabama, Mississippi, Boston and elsewhere, I realize I have just scratched the surface. Unfortunately, it was even worse than I had been aware.

Howard brings the reader into the heart of it all. Into the kitchens and crowded floor spaces of the various participants. In this section the reader is exposed to the heroism of, not only the big names, but common folk not mentioned in other history books.

I thought I was beyond shock but the brutal actions of many of my white countrymen are frightening. I could only wish that I was reading about another country and not my own. On the other hand, all of this makes what is happening today, with president Obama and other domestic legislation much clearer. We may have come a long way but we have a long way to go. Unfortunately, we have many who are now attempting to turn the country around and drive us back into our past. This is sad but reading the essays of Professor Zinn in this area make it all too clear why we all should not want to return to that era. Our present, as bad as it may be, is a world ahead of what we once were.

A few of the essays get a little academic and intellectual but the greater portion are very simple and deal directly with the events as they happened. His explanations always deal with the moral rationale. My interest in philosophy is not wasted with Mr. Zinn.

He is an extremely well read man. I have even highlighted books in his suggested reading at the end of the book.

All through the book he quotes from and cites other books and authors.

When one considers all the books this man has read, he must also wonder how this man did anything but read. But his life has been jam packed with personal adventures and experiences all dealing with social justice and things and events of moral consequence. He is a true activist, agitator and radical. The world has too few of his kind and type.

Howard has very little faith in governments. All governments will eventually be corrupted by the rich and powerful no matter how well intentioned they may begin, he proclaims. But he does not look upon this as reason to despair. He puts his faith, as many radicals do, in the dominant spirit of the good in all of us - or, at least, the good among all of us.

He has seen and met many of those good, brave hearts and he introduces us to them all.

This is his goal. To show to us, those like us who have risen to the occasion and have been frightened but stood their ground.

If you are like me and you want to know who this Zinn guy was, what he stood for, the kind of man he was, what he believed and how he acted on those beliefs, this is your book.

The Hobo Philosopher - Richard Edward Noble - is a writer and author of "America On Strike." A survey of Labor strikes from the colonial period to the Traffic Controllers.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Movie - Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

By Richard E. Noble

This movie is touted as “the feel good movie of the year.” Anybody who watched this movie and left feeling good about it, in my opinion, is lacking in something vital to their social conscience.

I don’t know what the creators’ intentions were with this film but I will certainly not be planning my next getaway vacation to India.

After watching this movie, I am left feeling much as I did after watching the movie, “Midnight Express.” I was happy for the man’s release from the Turkish prison in Midnight Express, just as I am happy for the two slumdogs who are the protagonists in this movie.

I definitely think this movie warrants praise and it deserves any awards that have been accorded to it but it certainly didn’t make me feel good. It made me feel very, very bad.

A slumdog appears to be India’s modern day equivalent to what was once referred to in that culture as “Untouchables.” The word “slumdog” is, of course, meant to be derogatory. An English equivalent might be dirtbag or scumbag.

India once suffered under what was called a caste system and it appears from this movie that they still do.

Supposedly this caste system belief is a part of the Hindu religion and its notion of reincarnation and Karma. It is a system of social stratification and a person’s karma, his behavior in his previous lives, determines his position in his present life.

The karma of certain people is so bad that they are placed in a caste not included in even the lowest caste of the caste system.

They are the Untouchables or the Dolits.

I remember reading about the horrid lives of these poor Untouchables decades ago.

I thought Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” was a horror story until I began reading about the real lives of the Untouchables in the non-fiction Indian culture.

These people lived in garbage dumps and scavenged and begged for their survival. The parents in these families would cripple, maim and blind their children so as to make them better beggars and increase their beggary dividends.

If I can believe this movie, it does not appear that much has changed in the Indian culture of today. I think it was George Orwell who stated, in his trekking India travelogue, that India would never become a great country because of its Hindu beliefs and the Hindu acceptance of fate and destiny and consequently poverty and social injustice and inequality. Considering the impressions left by this movie, I think he makes a good point.

This movie undermines all that I have been reading lately about the new India and the social progress it has been making over the past few decades.

That there are people living in India today who are boasting that they will soon be the leading economic culture in the world boggles my imagination. Much worse than that is the notion that if this actually were to be the case, the picture of the future that this film paints for the world is bleak indeed.

On the surface this is a love story. But unfortunately the moral, only revealed at the conclusion of the movie is one from that old time religion based on the Hindu notion of karma, destiny and fate.

So it seems that the Hindu caste system and the faith that spawned it are still alive and well in modern day India – at least according to this movie.

The male hero’s mother is murdered as she washes her clothes in some filthy pool of water. Her murder is not explained other than it had something to do with rivaling religious fanatics.

The two sons are now orphaned slumdogs. They are captured by a Faganesque, drug dealing gangster. He tortures, maims and brutalizes his captives to keep them in line and enhance their beggary. The two brothers and the younger brother’s little girlfriend attempt an escape before the younger boy is blinded by his tortures.

The boys escape but the little girl does not catch the train and remains with the drug dealing gangster and his gang of cutthroats. The remainder of this tale centers on this couple’s reunification.

Somehow mixed in here in this slum ridden, horror show of a country, a modern day TV program is incorporated into the film. As hard as it is to believe, the younger brother has matured and is a contestant on the TV show, an Indian version of “Who wants to be a millionaire.”

The show ends in a Michael Jackson type dance celebration and production extravaganza.

As I said in the beginning of this review, I do not know the real intentions of the creators of this film but they left a huge impression on me.

Unfortunately that impression is extremely negative.

At one point in the movie, one of the characters says to somebody,
“Well, you wanted to see a true picture of the real India, didn’t you?”

My god! Thank-you very much but I’ve seen enough of the “real” India to last me a good while.

Movie - Reds




By Richard E. Noble

Reds is a combination documentary and romance film.

John Reed is a famous/infamous American, radical, historical figure. He was an aspiring journalist, writer and poet during one of the most explosive, revolutionary periods in American history.

He was an avid Communist and active in the U.S. for many years. He was in my hometown of Lawrence, MA in 1912 along with Big Bill Haywood and the IWW for the well documented Bread and Roses Strike.

He was in Paterson, New Jersey, for the silk strike in 1913 and was a major influence in “The Pageant of the Paterson Strike,” a radical union play put on to help raise money for the strikers and their families and promote worldwide attention to the cause of labor struggles throughout the world.

He wrote about the Ludlow Massacre and other American Labor conflicts.

He is most famous as an American journalist and writer for his book “Ten Days That Shook the World.” He travelled to Russia after the Russian Army had walked off the battlefields of Europe in 1917 during the First World War. The entire Russian Army quit the “Capitalist” conflict and went home to take care of business. They would kill Czar Nicolas II, topple the centuries old regime and attempt by way of armed and violent revolution to establish a new democratic government. And John Reed was there to record the event.

He was a Harvard graduate.

The study of the Union Movement here in the U.S. and consequently the American Communist and Socialist parties, has been purposely neglected and even hidden from the American people.

Yet the battle over workers’ rights, social justice and human equality brought this nation to the brink of a second Civil War.

The battle rages on today in our present political system. Hatred for the American worker and his right to earn a living wage is still prevalent in our political system and throughout the populace.

The film story centers on the love story between John Reed and Louise Bryant. I was not aware of the extent of this gripping romance until seeing this movie. It was quite an outstanding love affair and Beatty does a fantastic job in documenting and recording it. It is definitely on the Doctor Zhivago level in story and film making.

I bought the film because of its documentary significance and my interest in the American Labor Movement.

There are interviews with famous radicals, writers, American Communist and Socialists.

Despite all the negative propaganda the American Communists and Socialists and their political parties and organizations did more to promote fair pay, the elimination and exploitation of child labor, good working conditions, sexual equality and free speech here at home than all other groups, parties, armies and social movement combined.

I feel that from an historical point of view knowing more about this time period and these famous radicals is crucial to a proper understanding of American history.

Our present overall understanding of this time and these people and their movements is convoluted and distorted to say the least.

This movie, besides its obvious Russian historical value, is American History.
Watch what happened then and get a better understanding of what is happening around you here in America today.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Where the Money Was - Willie Sutton

Where the Money Was

By Willie Sutton with Ed Linn

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

This is a fascinating tale. But even before I get into the story of Willie, I must pay tribute to Ed Linn. The influences of a professional writer are all over this book – and I say that in a positive way. The story line, the editing, the sentence structure, the characterization, the plot development, the embodiment of the image, the conscious manipulation of the reader – obviously undetected by the other reviewers who all feel as though they were sitting in Willie’s lap all through the book. A great job that I must credit Mr. Linn for, even understanding Willie’s potential for genius. This is Willie’s only book. If Willie had gone on to write several other books, I may not have been so bold as to credit Mr. Linn so lavishly. But this book is too good to have been written by a one time writer who has expressed nowhere to have had an interest in writing.

Ed Linn gets no credits in this book other than the three words … with Ed Linn printed on the cover. Mr. Linn assisted other greats like Leo Durocher and Bill Veeck in the same type “autobiography.” He has also written a biography of one of my favorite sports greats, Ted Williams, The Hitter. Ed was also a very successful sports writer and journalist. So giving Ed Linn his due, I will move along to Willie Sutton.

Despite the heroic nature of the book Willie Sutton was an admitted professional criminal. He loved robbing banks. “Why did I rob banks? Because I enjoyed it. I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank, robbing it, than at any other time in my life. I enjoyed everything about it so much that one or two weeks later I’d be out looking for the next job. But to me the money was the chips, that’s all.”

Willie admitted that he was never responsible for the famous quote that is the title of this book. His supposed answer to the question of why he robbed banks … because it was Where the Money Was. He credits that infamous quote to some unknown creative journalist.

Willie spent the majority of his life breaking into or out of someplace. He was a thief. He is credited with being the greatest bank robber in American history – but yet he spent over half his life in prison. He spent all of World War II trying to tunnel his way out of one prison. Willie may have won each individual battle but he certainly lost the war.

There is something psychologically strange in the accolade that Willie was the greatest bank robber ever. I would suggest that the greatest bank robbers in all of American History are more prominent characters who never set a foot inside a prison. J.P. Morgan, for example, or John D. Rockefeller Jr. or a long list of many of the prominent heads of our present collapsed banking system who are still knocking down millions in bonuses and paychecks. Willie’s whole career only grossed him 2 million. That is peanuts in today’s world of professional white collar bank robbers. I suppose that I could qualify that boast by saying that Willie Sutton was the greatest, modern day, blue collar bank robber in American history.

Willie expresses much this same attitude regarding the reciprocal justice of his craft. He said that he felt no guilt in robbing banks because banks robbed people all the time. This is true but in our present “no fault” banking system if Willie were robbing banks today, he would still be robbing us and not “them.” But back in the good old days he was probably getting more from “them” than from us. So we will bow to that old time wisdom.

Willie’s story is like a reverse Buddha. The Buddha left his castle and saw poverty and suffering and felt the need to lie down in the middle of it and feel the pain. Willie was born into poverty and the hard times of the twenties and thirties and saw wealth and good fortune and wanted to relax in the middle of it all and feel the joy.

It didn’t seem to work out all that well for the Buddha or for Willie. Both of these heroes traveled a bitter road of self abuse in the name of enlightenment.

There was something flagrantly lacking in Willie’s criminal nature. He really didn’t get away with anything. He robbed and paid for it. Willie didn’t want to be rich and famous it seems to me. He wanted to be infamous and notable. And so he was.

He was a tough little cookie who had the desire to show those who controlled things that he understood their game and was capable of sticking it all in their face. Whether he was successful or not, is difficult to determine.

Willie paid for his stance and his crimes but he won the respect of the bad guys and the good guys alike. Willie took the road less traveled, there is no doubt. And in a strange backasswards way he won the respect and admiration of the public audience. This book does a great job in painting that picture. He is made out to be a Robin Hood. But, as he says, he stole from the rich and kept it. Well, not exactly … he stole from the rich and spent it.

There is a lot to learn from reading this book. We learn about crime, prisons, criminals, murderers, petty crooks, cops – crooked and dedicated, and the system. But we learn even more about the human condition. Willie was a thinker and much of his angst comes through to the reader in the pages of this book.

The book has a happy ending. Willie makes his final break and busts out of Attica via hard earned legal expertise gained from reading law books while in prison, coupled with his hard earned street smarts and with a lot of help from his friends and admirers. One can also not discount Willie’s luck and as he boasts on the final page – his craft in devising a plan. Willie lives happily ever after – for eleven years anyway. He finds work helping banks with their security and touting for a credit card company. He also becomes an advocate for prison reform.

I don’t know if this book is still in print, but it is worth the hunt to find a copy. I feel like I know Willie and he is a confused but treasured buddy from my past.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Come Home America - William Greider

Come Home, America

By William Greider

I have made it a point to read all of Mr. Greider’s Books. I find him to be an honest interpreter of current events. I consider him my civics teacher. He has been all over the world and has a big overview of what is happening. He knows banking. He knows economics. He knows Washington politics. He knows world trade. He knows people. And he knows and respects all of us “little” regular folks. Most important of all he has and is concerned with moral character – right and wrong; fair and unfair – what the old school once called “Social Justice.”

I was very surprised to read in this book that Mr. Greider was a product of a Republican upbringing. He states that if his back was put to the wall he would choose Democrat over Republican. I don’t have to have my back to the wall to make the same choice. Yet I find myself often as critical of both sides as Mr. Greider.

I think Mr. Greider has come to the age where he feels any beating around the bush to be a waste of his valuable time. In this book he is very open with regards to his motivation, his goals and his dreams for America.

He has covered the Washington political scene and found our elected representatives less than inspiring. He has covered lobbying and the moneyed interests and their hold on our system. He has written an exhausting book on the Federal Reserve. He has been hired to speak to bankers by the bankers. He has been warning of this economic and financial disaster for years. He has challenged the top economists on their principles – especially Free Trade and the Global Economy. He has found little hope anywhere in the established system but yet he remains strong to his commitment to a personal optimism. He compares his long and frustrating career to that of a bag lady standing on a corner somewhere in America, screeching to a crowd as they zoom by, unaware and unconcerned.

But who does he place his trust in if not the Fed, the president, the Senate, the Congress, the bankers, the CEOs and CFOs, the corporate giants, the international conglomerates, the boldest and brightest, the movers and shakers? Who is there left?

Mr. Greider places his faith in “we” the people – all the people and democracy. Democracy doesn’t scare him. He loves it – the more the better. He compares “we, the people” to an underground river, a river that rolls along beneath the surface. A river that is sometimes dry and sometimes a raging torrent. A river of people’s varying opinions and ideas, a river of support, outrage and often society changing currents. Mr. Greider sees that river rising in America today. He wants to see it flood its caverns and fill our country with hope, change and, most of all, action.

In this book Mr. Greider cheers for an American Democracy of the people, by the people and for the people. He doesn’t know how the people will do it. He doesn’t know what they will actually do but in true optimist tradition he is hoping that today’s underground river will swell into a deluge of change and moral economic character, true patriotism and social justice.

He wants to see a new focus on America and its people. Not isolationist but realistic and sensible – sensible to all of its citizens and not just the wealthy, the bankers, the stock brokers and all the pointy-headed intellectuals and international investors.

When Mr. Greider says “Come Home, America” that is exactly what he means – Come Home America! Come home all of you Americans and bring your ingenuity, your inventive spirit, your investment capital, your love of your own, and let’s rebuild this country into something that we all can be proud of as Americans.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

What is Quantitative Easing?

What is Quantitative Easing?

(Sounds very much like my Noble Solution the The National Debt to me)

Central banks usually strengthen the economy through a single, vastly powerful tool — lowering interest rates. When the Federal Reserve makes it cheaper for banks to borrow money, that stimulus generally flows through the entire economy, as the banks make loans that in turn stimulate economic activity.

But when times are so dire that banks are reluctant to lend or borrowers to borrow whatever the cost, interest rate cuts lose their punch. That happened in Japan after the bursting of its real-estate bubble in 1991, and happened again in the wake of the credit crisis that upended Wall Street in the fall of 2008. In those circumstances, central banks turn to what economists call “quantitative easing’' — unorthodox methods of pumping money into an economy and working to lower the long-term interest rates that central bankers do not usually control.

The most usual approach is large-scale purchases of debt. The effect is the same as printing money in vast quantities, but without ever turning on the printing presses. The Fed buys government or other bonds and writes down that it has done so — what is called “expanding the balance sheet.” The bank then makes that money available for banks to borrow, thereby expanding the amount of money sloshing around the economy thereby, it hopes, reducing long-term interest rates.

And buying bonds drives down rates by increasing competition for the remaining bonds, forcing investors to accept a lower rate of return or move their money into other, riskier assets.

The Fed has engaged in several rounds of quantitative easing. The first round of bond purchases, known as QE1, aimed to arrest the financial crisis, in part by clearing room on bank balance sheets. The second round, called QE2, was started amid concerns that prices were increasing too slowly, raising the specter of deflation. This round, by contrast, is aimed squarely at the huge and persistent unemployment crisis.

Multiple Rounds

Between November 2008 and May 2010, the Fed bought $1.75 trillion in debt held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage-backed securities and Treasury notes between November 2008 and May 2010. A second round, dubbed QE2, involved an additional $600 billion in long-term Treasury securities purchased between November 2010 and June 2011.

In September 2011, the Fed began a variant that was called “Operation Twist.’' Instead of expanding its balance sheet by just buying more and more bonds, it sold $400 billion in short-term securities and used the proceeds to buy longer-term ones. In June 2012 the ban announced an extension worth $267 billion more.

In September 2012, the Fed announced a new round of bond purchases, QE3, but with an important difference. For the first time, it pledged to act until the economy improved, rather than creating another program with a fixed endpoint.

In announcing the new policy, the Fed sought to make clear that its decision reflected not only an increased concern about the health of the economy, but an increased determination to respond – in effect, an acknowledgment that its approach until now had been flawed.

The Fed said it would add $23 billion of mortgage bonds to its portfolio by the end of September, a pace of $40 billion in purchases each month. It will then announce a new target at the end of every month until the outlook for the labor market improves “substantially,” as long as inflation remains in check. The statement did not further explain either standard.

The Fed’s statement made clear, however, that it would continue to stimulate the economy even as the recovery strengthened, suggesting that it was now willing to tolerate somewhat higher inflation in the future to encourage growth in the present.

Debate Over Impact

There is broad disagreement among economists about the effects of the Fed’s actions. The Fed’s own research shows it may have raised economic output by 3 percent and created more than two million jobs. Most independent analyses have reached more modest conclusions, and some experts argue that there is little evidence of any meaningful economic impact.

The decision to focus on mortgage bonds reflects the Fed’s conviction that the housing market still needs help, and that lower rates on mortgage loans will produce broad economic benefits. Buying bonds drives down rates by increasing competition for the remaining bonds, forcing investors to accept a lower rate of return or move their money into other, riskier assets.

But many experts said that while the Fed program would help the housing recovery at the margins, even lower mortgage rates would not be enough in and of themselves to spur a strong turnaround, given the weakened financial state of many households.


What's Wrong with Minimum wage?


Why Don’t We Just Leave the Well-off Alone?

I have worked for minimum wage or below for the majority of my employment career which started when I was about ten years old. I have always known that it is because of me that the world, at large, and the U.S. in particular, has been going to hell in a handbag. My bosses have explained this to me over and over.

You see, it is because of my demanding this exorbitant minimum wage that we have inflation, constantly escalating prices, unemployment, teenagers idling on street corners and a vanishing industrial and manufacturing base.

Strangely enough, people who make exorbitant paychecks and profits as owners of businesses and CEOs and CFOs, and Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists, Stock brokers, people receiving dividends from their stock portfolios and Indian chiefs who own gambling casinos in Miami have just the opposite effect on the economy. Their pay increases do not cause inflation or increase prices; instead their extra money acts as a stimulus to the economy, promotes investment at home and abroad, creates jobs everywhere and, in general, makes the world a better place for everybody to live.

It goes like this: if you give Bitt Homney or Ronald Trumpet (fictitious names of two very rich people) or some such wealthy person another billion dollars a week, as opposed to giving another dollar a week to each employee at the Nike factory in Slumbovia, or Bumslavia, or Weallstarvingistan – nothing negative, economically, occurs. Prices do not go up because Bitt, or The Ronald or another among the minority of the rich has more money. They already have everything they ever wanted. They don’t need to buy anything. How many Hummers, BMWs, yachts, and diamond rings can one person have? Besides if the price of a quarter mile long yacht goes from 147 million to 150 million who would notice. This increase wouldn’t even make it into the pages of Money Magazine.

You can give all the money you want to rich folks and nothing in the economic world will change. This is an economic fact that was proven in the laboratory of real life economic science in 1929 by that great American monetary savant, Herbert Hoover.

On the other hand, an extra dollar in the pockets of a bunch of poor people automatically throws any economy into a tailspin. Right off, the price of M-D 20-20 skyrockets along with bread, peanut butter, and Chevrolet automobiles. This hits the commodity and retail markets immediately. The price of grain and legumes all over the world goes nuts. Farmers instantly begin double cropping, planting in-between the rows, and doubling up on fertilizers and polluting pesticides; government subsidies go through the roof, while profits to the farmers go down and the price of a tomato at the IGA in Wisconsin goes to a buck-fifty apiece. General Motors has to increase production, but the cost of labor in the U.S. is bankrupting them; so their new plant in China gets the contract while the DuPont family sells off all of their shares in Aunt Jemima Pancakes. It’s chaos.

If I, and those of my ilk, were willing to work for half or one third of minimum wage, my boss then could hire two or three more morons like me and, of course, the unemployment problem would vanish. This would also, more than likely, solve the illegal immigrant problem besides.

You see, if I were willing to pick tomatoes and sleep in an abandon building or old slave cottage or a farmer’s barn or root cellar while defecating in the woods or orchards or behind the hedges of better-off people in the San Bernardino mountains like illegal immigrants do, then the farmers would not have to encourage Coyotes to smuggle poor Mexicans and Central Americans across the Rio Grande and into Miami, Seattle, New York, New Jersey and Kalamazoo Michigan. Nor would they be forced to continue to falsify their labor and Social Security reports.

But because I, and others like me, are unwilling to do this, these poor farmers and packing house owners, and cottage-garment industry owners, sweatshop owners, and restaurant and construction company owners and landscapers, and concrete company and gas station owners, and grocery stores, and chicken and beef processing houses, and home cleaning and domestic services, and large chain department stores etc., must do all of these illegal, immoral things.

We minimum wage earners are like the pornographic video and bookstores in Holyoake, Missouri. We are the evil temptresses that lure the Jimmy Swaggarts and Tammy Faye Bakers into the snake pit of moral depravity; we are the Chunky Cheeses to the video game addict; we are the irresistible impulse luring the unsuspecting all over the world; we are the ones who are ruining the economic world. It is us, with our benign satisfaction with mediocrity, our unwillingness to achieve, and our ignorant and obstinate choice to remain unsuccessful.

Why is it that we continually choose to work at JR stores and wash dishes in greasy-spoon type restaurants that provide no health insurance? Why do we continually take up residence in crime ridden ghettoes? Why the heck don’t we just move; why don’t we make application to better universities; why do we accept advice and principles from parents who are even dumber than we are?

All of our kindhearted, generous employers are, of course, very good people. They are not criminals. It’s us; it’s me. And you know, I don’t know what is wrong with me. I don’t know why I act like this. I have tried to get help for this problem but I have been unable to find any psychiatrists who are willing to work for minimum wage. They feel if they work for any less than one hundred dollars a minute, research in mental health will be abandoned and more nutty folks, like me, will be put out onto the sidewalks and alleyways of the American inner cities. This, of course, will increase the perv quotient, promote crime, juvenile delinquency and the threat of terrorism everywhere.

It was because of people like me, way back when, demanding their pays to be raised to a minimum that forced the textile mills to leave New England. It was the same type of ugly Americans in the Midwest and eventually in the South that forced these poor, patriotic hard working mill owners to go to South America, India and Asia where now, unfortunately, they are forced to deal with the same type ungrateful breed over there. We minimum wage earners keep breeding like flies. There seems to be no end to our kind.

What is the matter with us minimum wage workers? When will we ever learn?

If we continually ask for more money, this just makes the prices of things rise. And after the prices go up, we still don’t have any more money than we had previously. So what is the sense to it? What will it take for us to learn that we must figure out how to live on whatever it is the boss is willing to pay us?

We certainly can’t ask the bosses to take less money. Why just look around. They are barely getting by on what they have now. And besides, there are so few of them and so many of us. I mean, if we took all the money from the 10% who own and control everything – all the rich people in the world – and divided it up among all the poor in the world, the price of peanut butter and jelly in the U.S. would be a thousand dollars a jar; M-D 20-20 would only be served at fine restaurants; golf courses would disappear and America would become one huge bowling alley. Yes, every other cardboard house the poor have built in the garbage dumps of the world might get a new tin roof … big deal.

Poor people just don’t seem to understand; if God wanted poor people to be better off, He wouldn’t have created Republicans.

2nd Amendment

This link provides the current federal Supreme Court interpretation of the second amendment.


[According to the most receint decission in 2008 which at the moment only applies to the District of Columbia and is not yet Federal, a citizen has the right under the second amendment to have a gun for his personal protection BUT the type, kind, anount of amunition etc are all subject to government regulation. At this moment the 1939 interpretation is still the law.]

On June 26, 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller (PDF), the United States Supreme Court issued its first decision since 1939 interpreting the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution confers an individual right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes such as self-defense. It also ruled that two District of Columbia provisions, one that banned handguns and one that required lawful firearms in the home to be disassembled or trigger-locked, violate this right.

The Second Amendment, one of the ten amendments to the Constitution comprising the Bill of Rights, states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The meaning of this sentence is not self-evident, and has given rise to much commentary but relatively few Supreme Court decisions.

In cases in the 19th Century, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment does not bar state regulation of firearms. For example, in United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1875), the Court stated that the Second Amendment “has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government,” and in Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 265 (1886), the Court reiterated that the Second Amendment “is a limitation only upon the power of Congress and the National government, and not upon that of the States.” Although most of the rights in the Bill of Rights have been selectively incorporated (PDF) into the rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment and thus cannot be impaired by state governments, the Second Amendment has never been so incorporated.

Prior to District of Columbia v. Heller, the last time the Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment was in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). In that case, Jack Miller and one other person were indicted for transporting an unregistered sawed-off shotgun across state lines in violation of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Miller argued, among other things, that the section of the National Firearms Act regulating the interstate transport of certain firearms violated the Second Amendment. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas agreed with Miller. The case was appealed directly to the Supreme Court, which reversed the district court. The Supreme Court read the Second Amendment in conjunction with the Militia Clause in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and concluded that “[i]n the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a [sawed-off] shotgun . . . has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.” 307 U.S. at 178. The Court concluded that the district court erred in holding the National Firearms Act provisions unconstitutional.

Since United States v. Miller, most federal court decisions considering the Second Amendment have interpreted it as preserving the authority of the states to maintain militias. Several of the post-Miller lower court opinions are discussed here (PDF).

The Supreme Court’s consideration of the Second Amendment this term was precipitated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision in Parker v. District of Columbia (PDF), 478 F.3d 370 (D.C. App. 2007). There, the D.C. Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that three District of Columbia laws regarding private gun ownership - namely a ban on new registration of handguns, a ban on carrying a pistol without a license, and a requirement that firearms be kept unloaded and locked - violated the Second Amendment. The court held that individuals have a right under the Second Amendment to own handguns for their own personal protection and keep them in their home without placing a trigger lock on them. This is the first decision since the Supreme Court decided Miller in which a federal court overturned a law regulating firearms based on the Second Amendment.

Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision not to rehear the case, the District of Columbia Government filed a petition for certiorari for review of the decision by the Supreme Court. The documents before the Supreme Court at the petition for certiorari stage have been collected here.

On November 20, 2007, the Supreme Court granted (PDF) the petition for certiorari. The Court framed the question for which it granted review as follows: “Whether the following provisions – D.C. Code §§ 7-2502.02(a)(4), 22-4504(a), and 7-2507.02 – violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?”

The briefs on the merits by the District of Columbia and respondent Dick Anthony Heller, as well as amicus briefs by some 67 “friends of the court,” have been collected here.

In its June 26 decision, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment confers an individual right to keep and bear arms, and that the D.C. provisions banning handguns and requiring firearms in the home disassembled or locked violate this right.

In the majority opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court first conducted a textual analysis of the operative clause, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Court found that this language guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons. The Court examined historical evidence that it found consistent with its textual analysis. The Court then considered the Second Amendment’s prefatory clause, "[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State," and determined that while this clause announces a purpose for recognizing an individual right to keep and bear arms, it does not limit the operative clause. The Court found that analogous contemporaneous provisions in state constitutions, the Second Amendment’s drafting history, and post-ratification interpretations were consistent with its interpretation of the amendment. The Court asserted that its prior precedent was not inconsistent with its interpretation.

The Court stated that the right to keep and bear arms is subject to regulation, such as concealed weapons prohibitions, limits on the rights of felons and the mentally ill, laws forbidding the carrying of weapons in certain locations, laws imposing conditions on commercial sales, and prohibitions on the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. It stated that this was not an exhaustive list of the regulatory measures that would be presumptively permissible under the Second Amendment.

The Court found that the D.C. ban on handgun possession violated the Second Amendment right because it prohibited an entire class of arms favored for the lawful purpose of self-defense in the home. It similarly found that the requirement that lawful firearms be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock made it impossible for citizens to effectively use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense, and therefore violated the Second Amendment right. The Court said it was unnecessary to address the constitutionality of the D.C. licensing requirement.

Four Justices dissented, each of which signed both of two dissenting opinions. One, by Justice Stevens, examined historical evidence on the meaning of the Second Amendment to conclude that the amendment protects militia-related interests. A second dissenting opinion, by Justice Breyer, stated that even if the Second Amendment protects a separate interest in individual self-defense, the District of Columbia provisions at issue are permissible forms of regulation.

The outcome of D.C. v. Heller leaves some issues unanswered, including whether the Second Amendment restricts state regulation of firearms, and the standard for evaluating the constitutionality of other laws and regulations that impact the Second Amendment right. These issues will be the subject of future litigation.

As background to the Court’s decision, the following is a selective bibliography listing only some of the substantial literature of books and journal articles on the Second Amendment.

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Carl T. Bogus, ed., The Second Amendment in Law and History: Historians and Constitutional Scholars on the Right to Bear Arms. New York: New Press, 2000.

Saul Cornell, A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Lawrence Delbert Cress, Citizens in Arms: The Army and the Militia in American Society to the War of 1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

Exploring Gun Use in America. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Stephen P. Halbrook, A Right to Bear Arms: State and Federal Bills of Rights and Constitutional Guarantees. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.

Joyce Lee Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Andrew J. McClurg, David B. Kopel, and Brannon P. Denning, eds., Gun Control and Gun Rights: A Reader and Guide. New York: New York University Press, 2002.

Robert J. Spitzer, The Politics of Gun Control. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008.

Mark V. Tushnet, Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can’t End the Battle Over Guns. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel, The Militia and the Right to Bear Arms, or, How the Second Amendment Fell Silent. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2002.

David C. Williams, The Mythic Meanings of the Second Amendment: Taming Political Violence in a ConstitutionalRepublic. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2003.

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Akhil Reed Amar, The Second Amendment: A Case Study in Constitutional Interpretation, 2001 Utah L. Rev. 889 (2001).

Christopher A. Chrisman, Mind the Gap: The Missing Standard of Review Under the Second Amendment (and Where to Find It), 4 Geo. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 289 (2006).

Robert H. Churchill, Gun Regulation, the Police Power, and the Right to Keep Arms in Early America: The Legal Context of the Second Amendment, 25 Law & Hist. Rev. 139 (2007).

Saul Cornell, Commonplace or Anachronism: The Standard Model, the Second Amendment, and the Problem of History in Contemporary Constitutional Theory, 16 Const. Comment. 221 (1999).

Robert J. Cottrol and Raymond T. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Towards an Afro-Americanist Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L. J. 309 (1991).

Lawrence Delbert Cress, An Armed Community: The Origin and Meaning of the Right to Bear Arms, 71 J. Am. Hist. 22 (1984).

Robert Dowlut, The Right To Keep And Bear Arms: A Right To Self-Defense Against Criminals And Despots, 8(1) Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 25 (Winter 1997).

Daniel A. Farber, Disarmed By Time: The Second Amendment and the Failure of Originalism, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 167 (2000).

Paul Finkelman, “A Well-Regulated Militia”: The Second Amendment in Historical Perspective, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 195 (2000).

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, Aliens With Guns: Equal Protection, Federal Power, and the Second Amendment, 92 Iowa L. Rev. 891 (2007).

Stephen P. Halbrook, What the Framers Intended: A Linguistic Analysis of the Right to “Bear Arms,” 49(1) Law & Contemp. Probs. 151 (Winter 1986).

R. Don Higginbotham, The Federalized Militia Debate: A Neglected Aspect of Second Amendment Scholarship, 55 Wm. & Mary Q. 39 (1998).

David Thomas Konig, The Second Amendment: A Missing Transatlantic Context for the Historical Meaning of “the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms,” 22 Law & Hist. Rev. 119 (2004).

Sanford Levinson, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L. J. 637 (1989).

Nelson Lund, Outsider Voices on Guns and the Constitution, 17 Const. Comment. 701 (2000) (reviewing Stephen P. Halbrook, Freedmen, The Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876, Westport, Ct.: Praeger Pubs. 1998).

Jack N. Rakove, The Second Amendment: The Highest Stage of Originalism, 76 Chi.-Kent L. Rev. 103 (2000).

Glenn Harlan Reynolds & Brannon P. Denning, It Takes a Militia: A Communitarian Case for Compulsory Arms Bearing, 5 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. J. 185 (1996).

William Van Alstyne, The Second Amendment and the Personal Right to Arms, 43 Duke L. J. 1236 (1994).

Eugene Volokh, The Commonplace Second Amendment, 73 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 793 (1998).

David Yassky, The Second Amendment: Structure, History, and Constitutional Change, 99 Mich. L. Rev. 588 (2000).

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Last Updated: 08/08/2012

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Labor History

Wow here is a great site for books that are about labor or labor related.


Monday, February 04, 2013

The Unfair Trade - Michael J. Casey

The Unfair Trade

How Our Broken Financial System Destroys the Middle Class

Michael J. Casey

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

Michael J. Casey is not an economist. He is a journalist. All through the book, I kept searching for his credentials. I could not believe that I was reading an economist. I looked him up again and I am very happy to confirm my notion that this fellow could not possibly be an economist. I don’t know where I ever got that idea.

Mr. Casey is a journalist and he works for the Wall Street Journal and something called the Dow Jones (Business and financial review, I presume.)

I looked him up before I requested this book. That should have been warning enough for the likes of my kind but I ordered the book nevertheless.

The title of the book “The Unfair Trade” and the subtitle “How Our Broken System Destroys the Middle Class” led me to believe that this book would defend the notion that Globalism is destroying the American middle class and explain the “how” of it all from the author’s perspective.

After reading this book, I did not find it to be a criticism of globalism. The author has found numerous problems with globalism but offers instead more, bigger and better, Globalism as the cure.

He had the same problem with the free market concept. He wants to tweak and adjust it to “level the playing field.” Well I don’t mean to be overly critical but if that is done, it is my understanding that we no longer have a free market utopian village, guided by the invisible hand of self regulation and automatic adjustment. We have a managed economy if not a totally communistic planned economy.

As for the middle class, I don’t feel that it is the American middle class that this author is concerned about, or the European middle class for that matter. It might be the middle class of Ethiopia or Paraguay but not America or Europe as far as I could tell.

Let me take you to the back of the book to Mr. Casey’s chapter on solutions.

“The United States’ long term fiscal challenges are indeed daunting. Future obligations of Medicare, Social Security and other retirement programs showed total unfunded liabilities of 62 trillion as of 2009, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, or $540,000 in claims per household. With baby boomers now leaving the workforce, these liabilities will inevitably precipitate a crisis if they aren’t reduced, an exercise that will weigh on growth for years, probably decades. Such is the price to be paid for the credit binge of the previous decade and for the transition the country must make from a financial economy to a productive one in which exports play a more fundamental role … My view: convince retirees, those with the most distorting electoral clout, of the counterintuitive but truthful notion that their long term interests lie in having their entitlements reduced. If the burden of paying for them is instead borne by the young, the productive generation on which our future depends and the groups hardest hit by the 2008 crisis all will be held back…”

Peter G. Peterson? The multi-billionaire who has had a long going campaign to destroy not only Medicare but Social Security, unemployment and any and all programs involving a safety net for any American, young or old? Is it from this man’s right wing, propaganda outlet that Mr. Casey is quoting?

Yes it is.

Neither the author nor Mr. Peterson seems to have heard that Social Security is an insurance program that is funded by contributions and has nothing to do with the deficit or the National Debt or the current fiscal crises. In fact, Social Security is solvent for a couple of decades and presents no immediate problems never mind a crisis.

It also has a very, very easy fix for the future. Remove the cap (another form of subsidy to the wealthy) and the future of our children is also secure … almost forever.

Medicare’s problem is with rising health care costs. Control the costs and extend the coverage – single payer universal care for everybody would be my preference.

I have this book filled with notes written in the margins and at the bottom of many pages.

I don’t really feel it will be worth my time or yours to quote more from this author’s text. Let me write here a few of my random notes, just for laughs.

1) Intermingled Contingent Liabilities: Brokers were allowed to make risky deals but yet cover their butts by betting against their own future success. This led to fraudulent transactions where deals were cut solely for the purpose of collecting on their counter bets.

2) The author gives a basic Republican explanation of economic collapse but does not credit here the corrupt financial and business practices. Instead he blames the Fed, Fannie and Freddie for allowing the theft and fraud to happen. Rather ridiculous. It is like blaming a bank for tempting bank robbers with their locked vaults full of money. Better education, better jobs and higher wages for the next generation will pick up and counter future tax increases – not cutting workers, firing people and lower salaries. Austerity is the wrong answer for a depressed economy. Wait until inflation becomes a problem. Now is the time for spending not cutting.

3) China must surrender Communism and become a Capitalist country in order to participate in the many benefits of the author’s suggested new and revised globalism? Is he nuts? And they say the liberals are the utopian dreamers.

4) Once again the author blames America and Americans for the problems, not the “system” or the rich investment community that corrupted it.

5) The author talks of the creation of new industries and improved technology in BRIC countries but does not mention the directly related losses in jobs and industries here at home. Author also forgets to mention that China, Brazil and Russia are making all these wonderful gains under Socialist rule … not capitalist.
And so it goes.

I regret that I wasted so much of my valuable time rehashing all this, for the most part, right wing dribble when I could have been reading something important.

If I regret reading this book myself, how can I recommend it to anyone else? Sorry.